Kennedy High School earned its first victory of the football season, Saturday night, as the Fighting Irish defeated Cypress High School, 8-7, in Anaheim's Handel Stadium in front of 1,250.
Kennedy Coach John Carroll stood on the sideline ready to celebrate when his team had the ball with 31 seconds left and Cypress out of timeouts. But 30 seconds later, his mood had changed, as the Centurions were on the Irish 16-yard line ready to attempt a game-winning field goal. The radical turn of events started when Kennedy quarterback Todd Bristow tried to run off six seconds so the Irish would not have to run another play.
Bristow had the ball stolen near midfield and after a 12-yard pass play, a personal foul and an offsides against Kennedy, Cypress kicker Ray Milton lined up for what could have been the winning kick.
But the center of the Centurion line collapsed and three defenders burst through to block the attempt. The ball was recovered by John Christensen as time ran out.
"It came down to us having to make a big play," Carroll said. "And it was a play we should not have had to make."
Kennedy is 1-1 in the Empire League play 1-4 overall, while Cypress is 0-2 and 3-2 on the season.
Kennedy tied the game, 6-6, with 4:09 to play on a two-yard run by Christensen to cap an 80-yard drive. After a timeout, Kennedy decided to go for the two-point conversion and got it when Bristow rolled right then threw to his left to Kyle Bernard, who was all alone.
The winning drive was twice kept alive by Cypress penalties. Kennedy was in punt formation when the Centurions were called for running into the kicker. On the next play, Christensen (16 carries for 82 yards) broke up the middle for a 17-yard gain but fumbled and Cypress returned it for a touchdown. But the officials ruled that Christensen was down before the ball came loose.
Cypress jumped offsides on a fourth and two at midfield also helping Kennedy toward the end zone.
Cypress had taken a 7-0 lead in the second period when quarterback Troy O'Leary went around end for a six-yard scoring run.